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The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 5 by Edward Gibbon

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David Reed


Edward Gibbon, Esq.

With notes by the Rev. H. H. Milman

Vol. 5

Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.

Part I.

Introduction, Worship, And Persecution Of Images. - Revolt
Of Italy And Rome. - Temporal Dominion Of The Popes. - Conquest
Of Italy By The Franks. - Establishment Of Images. - Character
And Coronation Of Charlemagne. - Restoration And Decay Of The
Roman Empire In The West. - Independence Of Italy. - Constitution
Of The Germanic Body.

In the connection of the church and state, I have considered
the former as subservient only, and relative, to the latter; a
salutary maxim, if in fact, as well as in narrative, it had ever
been held sacred. The Oriental philosophy of the Gnostics, the
dark abyss of predestination and grace, and the strange
transformation of the Eucharist from the sign to the substance of
Christ's body, ^1 I have purposely abandoned to the curiosity of
speculative divines. But I have reviewed, with diligence and
pleasure, the objects of ecclesiastical history, by which the
decline and fall of the Roman empire were materially affected,
the propagation of Christianity, the constitution of the Catholic
church, the ruin of Paganism, and the sects that arose from the
mysterious controversies concerning the Trinity and incarnation.
At the head of this class, we may justly rank the worship of
images, so fiercely disputed in the eighth and ninth centuries;
since a question of popular superstition produced the revolt of
Italy, the temporal power of the popes, and the restoration of
the Roman empire in the West.

[Footnote 1: The learned Selden has given the history of
transubstantiation in a comprehensive and pithy sentence: "This
opinion is only rhetoric turned into logic," (his Works, vol.
iii. p. 2037, in his Table-Talk.)]

The primitive Christians were possessed with an
unconquerable repugnance to the use and abuse of images; and this
aversion may be ascribed to their descent from the Jews, and
their enmity to the Greeks. The Mosaic law had severely
proscribed all representations of the Deity; and that precept was
firmly established in the principles and practice of the chosen
people. The wit of the Christian apologists was pointed against
the foolish idolaters, who bowed before the workmanship of their
own hands; the images of brass and marble, which, had they been
endowed with sense and motion, should have started rather from
the pedestal to adore the creative powers of the artist. ^2
Perhaps some recent and imperfect converts of the Gnostic tribe
might crown the statues of Christ and St. Paul with the profane
honors which they paid to those of Aristotle and Pythagoras; ^3
but the public religion of the Catholics was uniformly simple and
spiritual; and the first notice of the use of pictures is in the
censure of the council of Illiberis, three hundred years after
the Christian aera. Under the successors of Constantine, in the
peace and luxury of the triumphant church, the more prudent
bishops condescended to indulge a visible superstition, for the
benefit of the multitude; and, after the ruin of Paganism, they
were no longer restrained by the apprehension of an odious
parallel. The first introduction of a symbolic worship was in
the veneration of the cross, and of relics. The saints and
martyrs, whose intercession was implored, were seated on the
right hand if God; but the gracious and often supernatural
favors, which, in the popular belief, were showered round their
tomb, conveyed an unquestionable sanction of the devout pilgrims,
who visited, and touched, and kissed these lifeless remains, the
memorials of their merits and sufferings. ^4 But a memorial, more
interesting than the skull or the sandals of a departed worthy,
is the faithful copy of his person and features, delineated by
the arts of painting or sculpture. In every age, such copies, so
congenial to human feelings, have been cherished by the zeal of
private friendship, or public esteem: the images of the Roman
emperors were adored with civil, and almost religious, honors; a
reverence less ostentatious, but more sincere, was applied to the
statues of sages and patriots; and these profane virtues, these
splendid sins, disappeared in the presence of the holy men, who
had died for their celestial and everlasting country. At first,
the experiment was made with caution and scruple; and the
venerable pictures were discreetly allowed to instruct the
ignorant, to awaken the cold, and to gratify the prejudices of
the heathen proselytes. By a slow though inevitable progression,
the honors of the original were transferred to the copy: the
devout Christian prayed before the image of a saint; and the
Pagan rites of genuflection, luminaries, and incense, again stole
into the Catholic church. The scruples of reason, or piety, were
silenced by the strong evidence of visions and miracles; and the
pictures which speak, and move, and bleed, must be endowed with a
divine energy, and may be considered as the proper objects of
religious adoration. The most audacious pencil might tremble in
the rash attempt of defining, by forms and colors, the infinite
Spirit, the eternal Father, who pervades and sustains the
universe. ^5 But the superstitious mind was more easily
reconciled to paint and to worship the angels, and, above all,
the Son of God, under the human shape, which, on earth, they have
condescended to assume. The second person of the Trinity had
been clothed with a real and mortal body; but that body had
ascended into heaven: and, had not some similitude been presented
to the eyes of his disciples, the spiritual worship of Christ
might have been obliterated by the visible relics and
representations of the saints. A similar indulgence was
requisite and propitious for the Virgin Mary: the place of her
burial was unknown; and the assumption of her soul and body into
heaven was adopted by the credulity of the Greeks and Latins.
The use, and even the worship, of images was firmly established
before the end of the sixth century: they were fondly cherished
by the warm imagination of the Greeks and Asiatics: the Pantheon
and Vatican were adorned with the emblems of a new superstition;
but this semblance of idolatry was more coldly entertained by the
rude Barbarians and the Arian clergy of the West. The bolder
forms of sculpture, in brass or marble, which peopled the temples
of antiquity, were offensive to the fancy or conscience of the
Christian Greeks: and a smooth surface of colors has ever been
esteemed a more decent and harmless mode of imitation. ^6

[Footnote 2: Nec intelligunt homines ineptissimi, quod si sentire
simulacra et moveri possent, adoratura hominem fuissent a quo
sunt expolita. (Divin. Institut. l. ii. c. 2.) Lactantius is the
last, as well as the most eloquent, of the Latin apologists.
Their raillery of idols attacks not only the object, but the form
and matter.]

[Footnote 3: See Irenaeus, Epiphanius, and Augustin, (Basnage,
Hist. des Eglises Reformees, tom. ii. p. 1313.) This Gnostic
practice has a singular affinity with the private worship of
Alexander Severus, (Lampridius, c. 29. Lardner, Heathen
Testimonies, vol. iii. p. 34.)]

[Footnote 4: See this History, vol. ii. p. 261; vol. ii. p. 434;
vol. iii. p. 158 - 163.]

[Footnote 5: (Concilium Nicenum, ii. in Collect. Labb. tom. viii.
p. 1025, edit. Venet.) Il seroit peut-etre a-propos de ne point
souffrir d'images de la Trinite ou de la Divinite; les defenseurs
les plus zeles des images ayant condamne celles-ci, et le concile
de Trente ne parlant que des images de Jesus Christ et des
Saints, (Dupin, Bibliot. Eccles. tom. vi. p. 154.)]

[Footnote 6: This general history of images is drawn from the
xxiid book of the Hist. des Eglises Reformees of Basnage, tom.
ii. p. 1310 - 1337. He was a Protestant, but of a manly spirit;
and on this head the Protestants are so notoriously in the right,
that they can venture to be impartial. See the perplexity of poor
Friar Pagi, Critica, tom. i. p. 42.]

The merit and effect of a copy depends on its resemblance
with the original; but the primitive Christians were ignorant of
the genuine features of the Son of God, his mother, and his
apostles: the statue of Christ at Paneas in Palestine ^7 was more
probably that of some temporal savior; the Gnostics and their
profane monuments were reprobated; and the fancy of the Christian
artists could only be guided by the clandestine imitation of some
heathen model. In this distress, a bold and dexterous invention
assured at once the likeness of the image and the innocence of
the worship. A new super structure of fable was raised on the
popular basis of a Syrian legend, on the correspondence of Christ
and Abgarus, so famous in the days of Eusebius, so reluctantly
deserted by our modern advocates. The bishop of Caesarea ^8
records the epistle, ^9 but he most strangely forgets the picture
of Christ; ^10 the perfect impression of his face on a linen,
with which he gratified the faith of the royal stranger who had
invoked his healing power, and offered the strong city of Edessa
to protect him against the malice of the Jews. The ignorance of
the primitive church is explained by the long imprisonment of the
image in a niche of the wall, from whence, after an oblivion of
five hundred years, it was released by some prudent bishop, and
seasonably presented to the devotion of the times. Its first and
most glorious exploit was the deliverance of the city from the
arms of Chosroes Nushirvan; and it was soon revered as a pledge
of the divine promise, that Edessa should never be taken by a
foreign enemy. It is true, indeed, that the text of Procopius
ascribes the double deliverance of Edessa to the wealth and valor
of her citizens, who purchased the absence and repelled the
assaults of the Persian monarch. He was ignorant, the profane
historian, of the testimony which he is compelled to deliver in
the ecclesiastical page of Evagrius, that the Palladium was
exposed on the rampart, and that the water which had been
sprinkled on the holy face, instead of quenching, added new fuel
to the flames of the besieged. After this important service, the
image of Edessa was preserved with respect and gratitude; and if
the Armenians rejected the legend, the more credulous Greeks
adored the similitude, which was not the work of any mortal
pencil, but the immediate creation of the divine original. The
style and sentiments of a Byzantine hymn will declare how far
their worship was removed from the grossest idolatry. "How can
we with mortal eyes contemplate this image, whose celestial
splendor the host of heaven presumes not to behold? He who
dwells in heaven, condescends this day to visit us by his
venerable image; He who is seated on the cherubim, visits us this
day by a picture, which the Father has delineated with his
immaculate hand, which he has formed in an ineffable manner, and
which we sanctify by adoring it with fear and love." Before the
end of the sixth century, these images, made without hands, (in
Greek it is a single word, ^11) were propagated in the camps and
cities of the Eastern empire: ^12 they were the objects of
worship, and the instruments of miracles; and in the hour of
danger or tumult, their venerable presence could revive the hope,
rekindle the courage, or repress the fury, of the Roman legions.
Of these pictures, the far greater part, the transcripts of a
human pencil, could only pretend to a secondary likeness and
improper title: but there were some of higher descent, who
derived their resemblance from an immediate contact with the
original, endowed, for that purpose, with a miraculous and
prolific virtue. The most ambitious aspired from a filial to a
fraternal relation with the image of Edessa; and such is the
veronica of Rome, or Spain, or Jerusalem, which Christ in his
agony and bloody sweat applied to his face, and delivered to a
holy matron. The fruitful precedent was speedily transferred to
the Virgin Mary, and the saints and martyrs. In the church of
Diospolis, in Palestine, the features of the Mother of God ^13
were deeply inscribed in a marble column; the East and West have
been decorated by the pencil of St. Luke; and the Evangelist, who
was perhaps a physician, has been forced to exercise the
occupation of a painter, so profane and odious in the eyes of the
primitive Christians. The Olympian Jove, created by the muse of
Homer and the chisel of Phidias, might inspire a philosophic mind
with momentary devotion; but these Catholic images were faintly
and flatly delineated by monkish artists in the last degeneracy
of taste and genius. ^14

[Footnote 7: After removing some rubbish of miracle and
inconsistency, it may be allowed, that as late as the year 300,
Paneas in Palestine was decorated with a bronze statue,
representing a grave personage wrapped in a cloak, with a
grateful or suppliant female kneeling before him, and that an
inscription was perhaps inscribed on the pedestal. By the
Christians, this group was foolishly explained of their founder
and the poor woman whom he had cured of the bloody flux, (Euseb.
vii. 18, Philostorg. vii. 3, &c.) M. de Beausobre more reasonably
conjectures the philosopher Apollonius, or the emperor Vespasian:
in the latter supposition, the female is a city, a province, or
perhaps the queen Berenice, (Bibliotheque Germanique, tom. xiii.
p. 1 - 92.)]

[Footnote 8: Euseb. Hist. Eccles. l. i. c. 13. The learned
Assemannus has brought up the collateral aid of three Syrians,
St. Ephrem, Josua Stylites, and James bishop of Sarug; but I do
not find any notice of the Syriac original or the archives of
Edessa, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. i. p. 318, 420, 554;) their vague
belief is probably derived from the Greeks.]

[Footnote 9: The evidence for these epistles is stated and
rejected by the candid Lardner, (Heathen Testimonies, vol. i. p.
297 - 309.) Among the herd of bigots who are forcibly driven from
this convenient, but untenable, post, I am ashamed, with the
Grabes, Caves, Tillemonts, &c., to discover Mr. Addison, an
English gentleman, (his Works, vol. i. p. 528, Baskerville's
edition;) but his superficial tract on the Christian religion
owes its credit to his name, his style, and the interested
applause of our clergy.]

[Footnote 10: From the silence of James of Sarug, (Asseman.
Bibliot. Orient. p. 289, 318,) and the testimony of Evagrius,
(Hist. Eccles. l. iv. c. 27,) I conclude that this fable was
invented between the years 521 and 594, most probably after the
siege of Edessa in 540, (Asseman. tom. i. p. 416. Procopius, de
Bell. Persic. l. ii.) It is the sword and buckler of, Gregory
II., (in Epist. i. ad. Leon. Isaur. Concil. tom. viii. p. 656,
657,) of John Damascenus, (Opera, tom. i. p. 281, edit. Lequien,)
and of the second Nicene Council, (Actio v. p. 1030.) The most
perfect edition may be found in Cedrenus, (Compend. p. 175 -

[Footnote 11: See Ducange, in Gloss. Graec. et Lat. The subject
is treated with equal learning and bigotry by the Jesuit Gretser,
(Syntagma de Imaginibus non Manu factis, ad calcem Codini de
Officiis, p. 289 - 330,) the ass, or rather the fox, of
Ingoldstadt, (see the Scaligerana;) with equal reason and wit by
the Protestant Beausobre, in the ironical controversy which he
has spread through many volumes of the Bibliotheque Germanique,
(tom. xviii. p. 1 - 50, xx. p. 27 - 68, xxv. p. 1 - 36, xxvii. p.
85 - 118, xxviii. p. 1 - 33, xxxi. p. 111 - 148, xxxii. p. 75 -
107, xxxiv. p. 67 - 96.)]

[Footnote 12: Theophylact Simocatta (l. ii. c. 3, p. 34, l. iii.
c. 1, p. 63) celebrates it; yet it was no more than a copy, since
he adds (of Edessa). See Pagi, tom. ii. A.D. 588 No. 11.]

[Footnote 13: See, in the genuine or supposed works of John
Damascenus, two passages on the Virgin and St. Luke, which have
not been noticed by Gretser, nor consequently by Beausobre,
(Opera Joh. Damascen. tom. i. p. 618, 631.)]

[Footnote 14: "Your scandalous figures stand quite out from the
canvass: they are as bad as a group of statues!" It was thus that
the ignorance and bigotry of a Greek priest applauded the
pictures of Titian, which he had ordered, and refused to accept.]

The worship of images had stolen into the church by
insensible degrees, and each petty step was pleasing to the
superstitious mind, as productive of comfort, and innocent of
sin. But in the beginning of the eighth century, in the full
magnitude of the abuse, the more timorous Greeks were awakened by
an apprehension, that under the mask of Christianity, they had
restored the religion of their fathers: they heard, with grief
and impatience, the name of idolaters; the incessant charge of
the Jews and Mahometans, ^15 who derived from the Law and the
Koran an immortal hatred to graven images and all relative
worship. The servitude of the Jews might curb their zeal, and
depreciate their authority; but the triumphant Mussulmans, who
reigned at Damascus, and threatened Constantinople, cast into the
scale of reproach the accumulated weight of truth and victory.
The cities of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt had been fortified with
the images of Christ, his mother, and his saints; and each city
presumed on the hope or promise of miraculous defence. In a rapid
conquest of ten years, the Arabs subdued those cities and these
images; and, in their opinion, the Lord of Hosts pronounced a
decisive judgment between the adoration and contempt of these
mute and inanimate idols. ^* For a while Edessa had braved the
Persian assaults; but the chosen city, the spouse of Christ, was
involved in the common ruin; and his divine resemblance became
the slave and trophy of the infidels. After a servitude of three
hundred years, the Palladium was yielded to the devotion of
Constantinople, for a ransom of twelve thousand pounds of silver,
the redemption of two hundred Mussulmans, and a perpetual truce
for the territory of Edessa. ^16 In this season of distress and
dismay, the eloquence of the monks was exercised in the defence
of images; and they attempted to prove, that the sin and schism
of the greatest part of the Orientals had forfeited the favor,
and annihilated the virtue, of these precious symbols. But they
were now opposed by the murmurs of many simple or rational
Christians, who appealed to the evidence of texts, of facts, and
of the primitive times, and secretly desired the reformation of
the church. As the worship of images had never been established
by any general or positive law, its progress in the Eastern
empire had been retarded, or accelerated, by the differences of
men and manners, the local degrees of refinement, and the
personal characters of the bishops. The splendid devotion was
fondly cherished by the levity of the capital, and the inventive
genius of the Byzantine clergy; while the rude and remote
districts of Asia were strangers to this innovation of sacred
luxury. Many large congregations of Gnostics and Arians
maintained, after their conversion, the simple worship which had
preceded their separation; and the Armenians, the most warlike
subjects of Rome, were not reconciled, in the twelfth century, to
the sight of images. ^17 These various denominations of men
afforded a fund of prejudice and aversion, of small account in
the villages of Anatolia or Thrace, but which, in the fortune of
a soldier, a prelate, or a eunuch, might be often connected with
the powers of the church and state.

[Footnote 15: By Cedrenus, Zonaras, Glycas, and Manasses, the
origin of the Aconoclcasts is imprinted to the caliph Yezid and
two Jews, who promised the empire to Leo; and the reproaches of
these hostile sectaries are turned into an absurd conspiracy for
restoring the purity of the Christian worship, (see Spanheim,
Hist. Imag. c. 2.)]

[Footnote *: Yezid, ninth caliph of the race of the Ommiadae,
caused all the images in Syria to be destroyed about the year
719; hence the orthodox reproaches the sectaries with following
the example of the Saracens and the Jews Fragm. Mon. Johan.
Jerosylym. Script. Byzant. vol. xvi. p. 235. Hist. des Repub.
Ital. par M. Sismondi, vol. i. p. 126. - G.]

[Footnote 16: See Elmacin, (Hist. Saracen. p. 267,)
Abulpharagius, (Dynast. p. 201,) and Abulfeda, (Annal. Moslem. p.
264,), and the criticisms of Pagi, (tom. iii. A.D. 944.) The
prudent Franciscan refuses to determine whether the image of
Edessa now reposes at Rome or Genoa; but its repose is
inglorious, and this ancient object of worship is no longer
famous or fashionable.]

[Footnote 17: (Nicetas, l. ii. p. 258.) The Armenian churches are
still content with the Cross, (Missions du Levant, tom. iii. p.
148;) but surely the superstitious Greek is unjust to the
superstition of the Germans of the xiith century.]

Of such adventurers, the most fortunate was the emperor Leo
the Third, ^18 who, from the mountains of Isauria, ascended the
throne of the East. He was ignorant of sacred and profane
letters; but his education, his reason, perhaps his intercourse
with the Jews and Arabs, had inspired the martial peasant with a
hatred of images; and it was held to be the duty of a prince to
impose on his subjects the dictates of his own conscience. But
in the outset of an unsettled reign, during ten years of toil and
danger, Leo submitted to the meanness of hypocrisy, bowed before
the idols which he despised, and satisfied the Roman pontiff with
the annual professions of his orthodoxy and zeal. In the
reformation of religion, his first steps were moderate and
cautious: he assembled a great council of senators and bishops,
and enacted, with their consent, that all the images should be
removed from the sanctuary and altar to a proper height in the
churches where they might be visible to the eyes, and
inaccessible to the superstition, of the people. But it was
impossible on either side to check the rapid through adverse
impulse of veneration and abhorrence: in their lofty position,
the sacred images still edified their votaries, and reproached
the tyrant. He was himself provoked by resistance and invective;
and his own party accused him of an imperfect discharge of his
duty, and urged for his imitation the example of the Jewish king,
who had broken without scruple the brazen serpent of the temple.
By a second edict, he proscribed the existence as well as the use
of religious pictures; the churches of Constantinople and the
provinces were cleansed from idolatry; the images of Christ, the
Virgin, and the saints, were demolished, or a smooth surface of
plaster was spread over the walls of the edifice. The sect of
the Iconoclasts was supported by the zeal and despotism of six
emperors, and the East and West were involved in a noisy conflict
of one hundred and twenty years. It was the design of Leo the
Isaurian to pronounce the condemnation of images as an article of
faith, and by the authority of a general council: but the
convocation of such an assembly was reserved for his son
Constantine; ^19 and though it is stigmatized by triumphant
bigotry as a meeting of fools and atheists, their own partial and
mutilated acts betray many symptoms of reason and piety. The
debates and decrees of many provincial synods introduced the
summons of the general council which met in the suburbs of
Constantinople, and was composed of the respectable number of
three hundred and thirty-eight bishops of Europe and Anatolia;
for the patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria were the slaves of
the caliph, and the Roman pontiff had withdrawn the churches of
Italy and the West from the communion of the Greeks. This
Byzantine synod assumed the rank and powers of the seventh
general council; yet even this title was a recognition of the six
preceding assemblies, which had laboriously built the structure
of the Catholic faith. After a serious deliberation of six
months, the three hundred and thirty-eight bishops pronounced and
subscribed a unanimous decree, that all visible symbols of
Christ, except in the Eucharist, were either blasphemous or
heretical; that image-worship was a corruption of Christianity
and a renewal of Paganism; that all such monuments of idolatry
should be broken or erased; and that those who should refuse to
deliver the objects of their private superstition, were guilty of
disobedience to the authority of the church and of the emperor.
In their loud and loyal acclamations, they celebrated the merits
of their temporal redeemer; and to his zeal and justice they
intrusted the execution of their spiritual censures. At
Constantinople, as in the former councils, the will of the prince
was the rule of episcopal faith; but on this occasion, I am
inclined to suspect that a large majority of the prelates
sacrificed their secret conscience to the temptations of hope and
fear. In the long night of superstition, the Christians had
wandered far away from the simplicity of the gospel: nor was it
easy for them to discern the clew, and tread back the mazes, of
the labyrinth. The worship of images was inseparably blended, at
least to a pious fancy, with the Cross, the Virgin, the Saints
and their relics; the holy ground was involved in a cloud of
miracles and visions; and the nerves of the mind, curiosity and
scepticism, were benumbed by the habits of obedience and belief.
Constantine himself is accused of indulging a royal license to
doubt, or deny, or deride the mysteries of the Catholics, ^20 but
they were deeply inscribed in the public and private creed of his
bishops; and the boldest Iconoclast might assault with a secret
horror the monuments of popular devotion, which were consecrated
to the honor of his celestial patrons. In the reformation of the
sixteenth century, freedom and knowledge had expanded all the
faculties of man: the thirst of innovation superseded the
reverence of antiquity; and the vigor of Europe could disdain
those phantoms which terrified the sickly and servile weakness of
the Greeks.

[Footnote 18: Our original, but not impartial, monuments of the
Iconoclasts must be drawn from the Acts of the Councils, tom.
viii. and ix. Collect. Labbe, edit. Venet. and the historical
writings of Theophanes, Nicephorus, Manasses, Cedrenus, Zonoras,
&c. Of the modern Catholics, Baronius, Pagi, Natalis Alexander,
(Hist. Eccles. Seculum viii. and ix.,) and Maimbourg, (Hist. des
Iconoclasts,) have treated the subject with learning, passion,
and credulity. The Protestant labors of Frederick Spanheim
(Historia Imaginum restituta) and James Basnage (Hist. des
Eglises Reformees, tom. ii. l. xxiiii. p. 1339 - 1385) are cast
into the Iconoclast scale. With this mutual aid, and opposite
tendency, it is easy for us to poise the balance with philosophic

Note: Compare Schlosser, Geschichte der Bilder-sturmender
Kaiser, Frankfurt am-Main 1812 a book of research and
impartiality - M.]

[Footnote 19: Some flowers of rhetoric. By Damascenus is styled
(Opera, tom. i. p. 623.) Spanheim's Apology for the Synod of
Constantinople (p. 171, &c.) is worked up with truth and
ingenuity, from such materials as he could find in the Nicene
Acts, (p. 1046, &c.) The witty John of Damascus converts it into
slaves of their belly, &c. Opera, tom. i. p. 806]

[Footnote 20: He is accused of proscribing the title of saint;
styling the Virgin, Mother of Christ; comparing her after her
delivery to an empty purse of Arianism, Nestorianism, &c. In his
defence, Spanheim (c. iv. p. 207) is somewhat embarrassed between
the interest of a Protestant and the duty of an orthodox divine.]

The scandal of an abstract heresy can be only proclaimed to
the people by the blast of the ecclesiastical trumpet; but the
most ignorant can perceive, the most torpid must feel, the
profanation and downfall of their visible deities. The first
hostilities of Leo were directed against a lofty Christ on the
vestibule, and above the gate, of the palace. A ladder had been
planted for the assault, but it was furiously shaken by a crowd
of zealots and women: they beheld, with pious transport, the
ministers of sacrilege tumbling from on high and dashed against
the pavement: and the honors of the ancient martyrs were
prostituted to these criminals, who justly suffered for murder
and rebellion. ^21 The execution of the Imperial edicts was
resisted by frequent tumults in Constantinople and the provinces:
the person of Leo was endangered, his officers were massacred,
and the popular enthusiasm was quelled by the strongest efforts
of the civil and military power. Of the Archipelago, or Holy
Sea, the numerous islands were filled with images and monks:
their votaries abjured, without scruple, the enemy of Christ, his
mother, and the saints; they armed a fleet of boats and galleys,
displayed their consecrated banners, and boldly steered for the
harbor of Constantinople, to place on the throne a new favorite
of God and the people. They depended on the succor of a miracle:
but their miracles were inefficient against the Greek fire; and,
after the defeat and conflagration of the fleet, the naked
islands were abandoned to the clemency or justice of the
conqueror. The son of Leo, in the first year of his reign, had
undertaken an expedition against the Saracens: during his
absence, the capital, the palace, and the purple, were occupied
by his kinsman Artavasdes, the ambitious champion of the orthodox
faith. The worship of images was triumphantly restored: the
patriarch renounced his dissimulation, or dissembled his
sentiments and the righteous claims of the usurper was
acknowledged, both in the new, and in ancient, Rome. Constantine
flew for refuge to his paternal mountains; but he descended at
the head of the bold and affectionate Isaurians; and his final
victory confounded the arms and predictions of the fanatics. His
long reign was distracted with clamor, sedition, conspiracy, and
mutual hatred, and sanguinary revenge; the persecution of images
was the motive or pretence, of his adversaries; and, if they
missed a temporal diadem, they were rewarded by the Greeks with
the crown of martyrdom. In every act of open and clandestine
treason, the emperor felt the unforgiving enmity of the monks,
the faithful slaves of the superstition to which they owed their
riches and influence. They prayed, they preached, they absolved,
they inflamed, they conspired; the solitude of Palestine poured
forth a torrent of invective; and the pen of St. John Damascenus,
^22 the last of the Greek fathers, devoted the tyrant's head,
both in this world and the next. ^23 ^* I am not at leisure to
examine how far the monks provoked, nor how much they have
exaggerated, their real and pretended sufferings, nor how many
lost their lives or limbs, their eyes or their beards, by the
cruelty of the emperor. ^! From the chastisement of individuals,
he proceeded to the abolition of the order; and, as it was
wealthy and useless, his resentment might be stimulated by
avarice, and justified by patriotism. The formidable name and
mission of the Dragon, ^24 his visitor-general, excited the
terror and abhorrence of the black nation: the religious
communities were dissolved, the buildings were converted into
magazines, or bar racks; the lands, movables, and cattle were
confiscated; and our modern precedents will support the charge,
that much wanton or malicious havoc was exercised against the
relics, and even the books of the monasteries. With the habit
and profession of monks, the public and private worship of images
was rigorously proscribed; and it should seem, that a solemn
abjuration of idolatry was exacted from the subjects, or at least
from the clergy, of the Eastern empire. ^25

[Footnote 21: The holy confessor Theophanes approves the
principle of their rebellion, (p. 339.) Gregory II. (in Epist. i.
ad Imp. Leon. Concil. tom. viii. p. 661, 664) applauds the zeal
of the Byzantine women who killed the Imperial officers.]

[Footnote 22: John, or Mansur, was a noble Christian of Damascus,
who held a considerable office in the service of the caliph. His
zeal in the cause of images exposed him to the resentment and
treachery of the Greek emperor; and on the suspicion of a
treasonable correspondence, he was deprived of his right hand,
which was miraculously restored by the Virgin. After this
deliverance, he resigned his office, distributed his wealth, and
buried himself in the monastery of St. Sabas, between Jerusalem
and the Dead Sea. The legend is famous; but his learned editor,
Father Lequien, has a unluckily proved that St. John Damascenus
was already a monk before the Iconoclast dispute, (Opera, tom. i.
Vit. St. Joan. Damascen. p. 10 - 13, et Notas ad loc.)]

[Footnote 23: After sending Leo to the devil, he introduces his
heir, (Opera, Damascen. tom. i. p. 625.) If the authenticity of
this piece be suspicious, we are sure that in other works, no
longer extant, Damascenus bestowed on Constantine the titles.
(tom. i. p. 306.)]

[Footnote *: The patriarch Anastasius, an Iconoclast under Leo,
an image worshipper under Artavasdes, was scourged, led through
the streets on an ass, with his face to the tail; and, reinvested
in his dignity, became again the obsequious minister of
Constantine in his Iconoclastic persecutions. See Schlosser p.
211. - M.]

[Footnote !: Compare Schlosser, p. 228 - 234. - M.]

[Footnote 24: In the narrative of this persecution from
Theophanes and Cedreves, Spanheim (p. 235 - 238) is happy to
compare the Draco of Leo with the dragoons (Dracones) of Louis
XIV.; and highly solaces himself with the controversial pun.]

[Footnote 25: (Damascen. Op. tom. i. p. 625.) This oath and
subscription I do not remember to have seen in any modern

The patient East abjured, with reluctance, her sacred
images; they were fondly cherished, and vigorously defended, by
the independent zeal of the Italians. In ecclesiastical rank and
jurisdiction, the patriarch of Constantinople and the pope of
Rome were nearly equal. But the Greek prelate was a domestic
slave under the eye of his master, at whose nod he alternately
passed from the convent to the throne, and from the throne to the
convent. A distant and dangerous station, amidst the Barbarians
of the West, excited the spirit and freedom of the Latin bishops.

Their popular election endeared them to the Romans: the public
and private indigence was relieved by their ample revenue; and
the weakness or neglect of the emperors compelled them to
consult, both in peace and war, the temporal safety of the city.
In the school of adversity the priest insensibly imbibed the
virtues and the ambition of a prince; the same character was
assumed, the same policy was adopted, by the Italian, the Greek,
or the Syrian, who ascended the chair of St. Peter; and, after
the loss of her legions and provinces, the genius and fortune of
the popes again restored the supremacy of Rome. It is agreed,
that in the eighth century, their dominion was founded on
rebellion, and that the rebellion was produced, and justified, by
the heresy of the Iconoclasts; but the conduct of the second and
third Gregory, in this memorable contest, is variously
interpreted by the wishes of their friends and enemies. The
Byzantine writers unanimously declare, that, after a fruitless
admonition, they pronounced the separation of the East and West,
and deprived the sacrilegious tyrant of the revenue and
sovereignty of Italy. Their excommunication is still more
clearly expressed by the Greeks, who beheld the accomplishment of
the papal triumphs; and as they are more strongly attached to
their religion than to their country, they praise, instead of
blaming, the zeal and orthodoxy of these apostolical men. ^26 The
modern champions of Rome are eager to accept the praise and the
precedent: this great and glorious example of the deposition of
royal heretics is celebrated by the cardinals Baronius and
Bellarmine; ^27 and if they are asked, why the same thunders were
not hurled against the Neros and Julians of antiquity, they
reply, that the weakness of the primitive church was the sole
cause of her patient loyalty. ^28 On this occasion the effects of
love and hatred are the same; and the zealous Protestants, who
seek to kindle the indignation, and to alarm the fears, of
princes and magistrates, expatiate on the insolence and treason
of the two Gregories against their lawful sovereign. ^29 They are
defended only by the moderate Catholics, for the most part, of
the Gallican church, ^30 who respect the saint, without approving
the sin. These common advocates of the crown and the mitre
circumscribe the truth of facts by the rule of equity, Scripture,
and tradition, and appeal to the evidence of the Latins, ^31 and
the lives ^32 and epistles of the popes themselves.

[Footnote 26: Theophanes. (Chronograph. p. 343.) For this Gregory
is styled by Cedrenus . (p. 450.) Zonaras specifies the thunder,
(tom. ii. l. xv. p. 104, 105.) It may be observed, that the
Greeks are apt to confound the times and actions of two

[Footnote 27: See Baronius, Annal. Eccles. A.D. 730, No. 4, 5;
dignum exemplum! Bellarmin. de Romano Pontifice, l. v. c. 8:
mulctavit eum parte imperii. Sigonius, de Regno Italiae, l. iii.
Opera, tom. ii. p. 169. Yet such is the change of Italy, that
Sigonius is corrected by the editor of Milan, Philipus Argelatus,
a Bolognese, and subject of the pope.]

[Footnote 28: Quod si Christiani olim non deposuerunt Neronem aut
Julianum, id fuit quia deerant vires temporales Christianis,
(honest Bellarmine, de Rom. Pont. l. v. c. 7.) Cardinal Perron
adds a distinction more honorable to the first Christians, but
not more satisfactory to modern princes - the treason of heretics
and apostates, who break their oath, belie their coin, and
renounce their allegiance to Christ and his vicar, (Perroniana,
p. 89.)]

[Footnote 29: Take, as a specimen, the cautious Basnage (Hist.
d'Eglise, p. 1350, 1351) and the vehement Spanheim, (Hist.
Imaginum,) who, with a hundred more, tread in the footsteps of
the centuriators of Magdeburgh.]

[Footnote 30: See Launoy, (Opera, tom. v. pars ii. epist. vii. 7,
p. 456 - 474,) Natalis Alexander, (Hist. Nov. Testamenti, secul.
viii. dissert. i. p. 92 - 98,) Pagi, (Critica, tom. iii. p. 215,
216,) and Giannone, (Istoria Civile Napoli, tom. i. p. 317 -
320,) a disciple of the Gallican school In the field of
controversy I always pity the moderate party, who stand on the
open middle ground exposed to the fire of both sides.]

[Footnote 31: They appeal to Paul Warnefrid, or Diaconus, (de
Gestis Langobard. l. vi. c. 49, p. 506, 507, in Script. Ital.
Muratori, tom. i. pars i.,) and the nominal Anastasius, (de Vit.
Pont. in Muratori, tom. iii. pars i. Gregorius II. p. 154.
Gregorius III. p. 158. Zacharias, p. 161. Stephanus III. p. 165.

Paulus, p. 172. Stephanus IV. p. 174. Hadrianus, p. 179. Leo
III. p. 195.) Yet I may remark, that the true Anastasius (Hist.
Eccles. p. 134, edit. Reg.) and the Historia Miscella, (l. xxi.
p. 151, in tom. i. Script. Ital.,) both of the ixth century,
translate and approve the Greek text of Theophanes.]

[Footnote 32: With some minute difference, the most learned
critics, Lucas Holstenius, Schelestrate, Ciampini, Bianchini,
Muratori, (Prolegomena ad tom. iii. pars i.,) are agreed that the
Liber Pontificalis was composed and continued by the apostolic
librarians and notaries of the viiith and ixth centuries; and
that the last and smallest part is the work of Anastasius, whose
name it bears. The style is barbarous, the narrative partial,
the details are trifling - yet it must be read as a curious and
authentic record of the times. The epistles of the popes are
dispersed in the volumes of Councils.]

Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.

Part II.

Two original epistles, from Gregory the Second to the
emperor Leo, are still extant; ^33 and if they cannot be praised
as the most perfect models of eloquence and logic, they exhibit
the portrait, or at least the mask, of the founder of the papal
monarchy. "During ten pure and fortunate years," says Gregory to
the emperor, "we have tasted the annual comfort of your royal
letters, subscribed in purple ink, with your own hand, the sacred
pledges of your attachment to the orthodox creed of our fathers.
How deplorable is the change! how tremendous the scandal! You
now accuse the Catholics of idolatry; and, by the accusation, you
betray your own impiety and ignorance. To this ignorance we are
compelled to adapt the grossness of our style and arguments: the
first elements of holy letters are sufficient for your confusion;
and were you to enter a grammar-school, and avow yourself the
enemy of our worship, the simple and pious children would be
provoked to cast their horn-books at your head." After this
decent salutation, the pope attempts the usual distinction
between the idols of antiquity and the Christian images. The
former were the fanciful representations of phantoms or daemons,
at a time when the true God had not manifested his person in any
visible likeness. The latter are the genuine forms of Christ,
his mother, and his saints, who had approved, by a crowd of
miracles, the innocence and merit of this relative worship. He
must indeed have trusted to the ignorance of Leo, since he could
assert the perpetual use of images, from the apostolic age, and
their venerable presence in the six synods of the Catholic
church. A more specious argument is drawn from present
possession and recent practice the harmony of the Christian world
supersedes the demand of a general council; and Gregory frankly
confesses, than such assemblies can only be useful under the
reign of an orthodox prince. To the impudent and inhuman Leo,
more guilty than a heretic, he recommends peace, silence, and
implicit obedience to his spiritual guides of Constantinople and
Rome. The limits of civil and ecclesiastical powers are defined
by the pontiff. To the former he appropriates the body; to the
latter, the soul: the sword of justice is in the hands of the
magistrate: the more formidable weapon of excommunication is
intrusted to the clergy; and in the exercise of their divine
commission a zealous son will not spare his offending father: the
successor of St. Peter may lawfully chastise the kings of the
earth. "You assault us, O tyrant! with a carnal and military
hand: unarmed and naked we can only implore the Christ, the
prince of the heavenly host, that he will send unto you a devil,
for the destruction of your body and the salvation of your soul.
You declare, with foolish arrogance, I will despatch my orders to
Rome: I will break in pieces the image of St. Peter; and Gregory,
like his predecessor Martin, shall be transported in chains, and
in exile, to the foot of the Imperial throne. Would to God that
I might be permitted to tread in the footsteps of the holy
Martin! but may the fate of Constans serve as a warning to the
persecutors of the church! After his just condemnation by the
bishops of Sicily, the tyrant was cut off, in the fullness of his
sins, by a domestic servant: the saint is still adored by the
nations of Scythia, among whom he ended his banishment and his
life. But it is our duty to live for the edification and support
of the faithful people; nor are we reduced to risk our safety on
the event of a combat. Incapable as you are of defending your
Roman subjects, the maritime situation of the city may perhaps
expose it to your depredation but we can remove to the distance
of four-and-twenty stadia, to the first fortress of the Lombards,
and then - you may pursue the winds. Are you ignorant that the
popes are the bond of union, the mediators of peace, between the
East and West? The eyes of the nations are fixed on our
humility; and they revere, as a God upon earth, the apostle St.
Peter, whose image you threaten to destroy. ^35 The remote and
interior kingdoms of the West present their homage to Christ and
his vicegerent; and we now prepare to visit one of their most
powerful monarchs, who desires to receive from our hands the
sacrament of baptism. ^36 The Barbarians have submitted to the
yoke of the gospel, while you alone are deaf to the voice of the
shepherd. These pious Barbarians are kindled into rage: they
thirst to avenge the persecution of the East. Abandon your rash
and fatal enterprise; reflect, tremble, and repent. If you
persist, we are innocent of the blood that will be spilt in the
contest; may it fall on your own head!"

[Footnote 33: The two epistles of Gregory II. have been preserved
in the Acta of the Nicene Council, (tom. viii. p. 651 - 674.)
They are without a date, which is variously fixed, by Baronius in
the year 726, by Muratori (Annali d'Italia, tom. vi. p. 120) in
729, and by Pagi in 730. Such is the force of prejudice, that
some papists have praised the good sense and moderation of these

[Footnote 34: (Epist. i. p. 664.) This proximity of the Lombards
is hard of digestion. Camillo Pellegrini (Dissert. iv. de Ducatu
Beneventi, in the Script. Ital. tom. v. p. 172, 173) forcibly
reckons the xxivth stadia, not from Rome, but from the limits of
the Roman duchy, to the first fortress, perhaps Sora, of the
Lombards. I rather believe that Gregory, with the pedantry of
the age, employs stadia for miles, without much inquiry into the
genuine measure.]

[Footnote 35: {Greek}]

[Footnote 36: (p. 665.) The pope appears to have imposed on the
ignorance of the Greeks: he lived and died in the Lateran; and in
his time all the kingdoms of the West had embraced Christianity.
May not this unknown Septetus have some reference to the chief of
the Saxon Heptarchy, to Ina king of Wessex, who, in the
pontificate of Gregory the Second, visited Rome for the purpose,
not of baptism, but of pilgrimage! Pagi. A., 89, No. 2. A.D.
726, No. 15.)]

The first assault of Leo against the images of
Constantinople had been witnessed by a crowd of strangers from
Italy and the West, who related with grief and indignation the
sacrilege of the emperor. But on the reception of his
proscriptive edict, they trembled for their domestic deities: the
images of Christ and the Virgin, of the angels, martyrs, and
saints, were abolished in all the churches of Italy; and a strong
alternative was proposed to the Roman pontiff, the royal favor as
the price of his compliance, degradation and exile as the penalty
of his disobedience. Neither zeal nor policy allowed him to
hesitate; and the haughty strain in which Gregory addressed the
emperor displays his confidence in the truth of his doctrine or
the powers of resistance. Without depending on prayers or
miracles, he boldly armed against the public enemy, and his
pastoral letters admonished the Italians of their danger and
their duty. ^37 At this signal, Ravenna, Venice, and the cities
of the Exarchate and Pentapolis, adhered to the cause of
religion; their military force by sea and land consisted, for the
most part, of the natives; and the spirit of patriotism and zeal
was transfused into the mercenary strangers. The Italians swore
to live and die in the defence of the pope and the holy images;
the Roman people was devoted to their father, and even the
Lombards were ambitious to share the merit and advantage of this
holy war. The most treasonable act, but the most obvious
revenge, was the destruction of the statues of Leo himself: the
most effectual and pleasing measure of rebellion, was the
withholding the tribute of Italy, and depriving him of a power
which he had recently abused by the imposition of a new
capitation. ^38 A form of administration was preserved by the
election of magistrates and governors; and so high was the public
indignation, that the Italians were prepared to create an
orthodox emperor, and to conduct him with a fleet and army to the
palace of Constantinople. In that palace, the Roman bishops, the
second and third Gregory, were condemned as the authors of the
revolt, and every attempt was made, either by fraud or force, to
seize their persons, and to strike at their lives. The city was
repeatedly visited or assaulted by captains of the guards, and
dukes and exarchs of high dignity or secret trust; they landed
with foreign troops, they obtained some domestic aid, and the
superstition of Naples may blush that her fathers were attached
to the cause of heresy. But these clandestine or open attacks
were repelled by the courage and vigilance of the Romans; the
Greeks were overthrown and massacred, their leaders suffered an
ignominious death, and the popes, however inclined to mercy,
refused to intercede for these guilty victims. At Ravenna, ^39
the several quarters of the city had long exercised a bloody and
hereditary feud; in religious controversy they found a new
aliment of faction: but the votaries of images were superior in
numbers or spirit, and the exarch, who attempted to stem the
torrent, lost his life in a popular sedition. To punish this
flagitious deed, and restore his dominion in Italy, the emperor
sent a fleet and army into the Adriatic Gulf. After suffering
from the winds and waves much loss and delay, the Greeks made
their descent in the neighborhood of Ravenna: they threatened to
depopulate the guilty capital, and to imitate, perhaps to
surpass, the example of Justinian the Second, who had chastised a
former rebellion by the choice and execution of fifty of the
principal inhabitants. The women and clergy, in sackcloth and
ashes, lay prostrate in prayer: the men were in arms for the
defence of their country; the common danger had united the
factions, and the event of a battle was preferred to the slow
miseries of a siege. In a hard-fought day, as the two armies
alternately yielded and advanced, a phantom was seen, a voice was
heard, and Ravenna was victorious by the assurance of victory.
The strangers retreated to their ships, but the populous
sea-coast poured forth a multitude of boats; the waters of the Po
were so deeply infected with blood, that during six years the
public prejudice abstained from the fish of the river; and the
institution of an annual feast perpetuated the worship of images,
and the abhorrence of the Greek tyrant. Amidst the triumph of
the Catholic arms, the Roman pontiff convened a synod of
ninety-three bishops against the heresy of the Iconoclasts. With
their consent, he pronounced a general excommunication against
all who by word or deed should attack the tradition of the
fathers and the images of the saints: in this sentence the
emperor was tacitly involved, ^40 but the vote of a last and
hopeless remonstrance may seem to imply that the anathema was yet
suspended over his guilty head. No sooner had they confirmed
their own safety, the worship of images, and the freedom of Rome
and Italy, than the popes appear to have relaxed of their
severity, and to have spared the relics of the Byzantine
dominion. Their moderate councils delayed and prevented the
election of a new emperor, and they exhorted the Italians not to
separate from the body of the Roman monarchy. The exarch was
permitted to reside within the walls of Ravenna, a captive rather
than a master; and till the Imperial coronation of Charlemagne,
the government of Rome and Italy was exercised in the name of the
successors of Constantine. ^41

[Footnote 37: I shall transcribe the important and decisive
passage of the Liber Pontificalis. Respiciens ergo pius vir
profanam principis jussionem, jam contra Imperatorem quasi contra
hostem se armavit, renuens haeresim ejus, scribens ubique se
cavere Christianos, eo quod orta fuisset impietas talis. Igitur
permoti omnes Pentapolenses, atque Venetiarum exercitus contra
Imperatoris jussionem restiterunt; dicentes se nunquam in ejusdem
pontificis condescendere necem, sed pro ejus magis defensione
viriliter decertare, (p. 156.)]

[Footnote 38: A census, or capitation, says Anastasius, (p. 156;)
a most cruel tax, unknown to the Saracens themselves, exclaims
the zealous Maimbourg, (Hist. des Iconoclastes, l. i.,) and
Theophanes, (p. 344,) who talks of Pharaoh's numbering the male
children of Israel. This mode of taxation was familiar to the
Saracens; and, most unluckily for the historians, it was imposed
a few years afterwards in France by his patron Louis XIV.]

[Footnote 39: See the Liber Pontificalis of Agnellus, (in the
Scriptores Rerum Italicarum of Muratori, tom. ii. pars i.,) whose
deeper shade of barbarism marks the difference between Rome and
Ravenna. Yet we are indebted to him for some curious and
domestic facts - the quarters and factions of Ravenna, (p. 154,)
the revenge of Justinian II, (p. 160, 161,) the defeat of the
Greeks, (p. 170, 171,) &c.]

[Footnote 40: Yet Leo was undoubtedly comprised in the si quis
.... imaginum sacrarum .... destructor .... extiterit, sit
extorris a cor pore D. N. Jesu Christi vel totius ecclesiae
unitate. The canonists may decide whether the guilt or the name
constitutes the excommunication; and the decision is of the last
importance to their safety, since, according to the oracle
(Gratian, Caus. xxiii. q. 5, 47, apud Spanheim, Hist. Imag. p.
112) homicidas non esse qui excommunicatos trucidant.]

[Footnote 41: Compescuit tale consilium Pontifex, sperans
conversionem principis, (Anastas. p. 156.) Sed ne desisterent ab
amore et fide R. J. admonebat, (p. 157.) The popes style Leo and
Constantine Copronymus, Imperatores et Domini, with the strange
epithet of Piissimi. A famous Mosaic of the Lateran (A.D. 798)
represents Christ, who delivers the keys to St. Peter and the
banner to Constantine V. (Muratori, Annali d'Italia, tom. vi. p.

The liberty of Rome, which had been oppressed by the arms
and arts of Augustus, was rescued, after seven hundred and fifty
years of servitude, from the persecution of Leo the Isaurian. By
the Caesars, the triumphs of the consuls had been annihilated: in
the decline and fall of the empire, the god Terminus, the sacred
boundary, had insensibly receded from the ocean, the Rhine, the
Danube, and the Euphrates; and Rome was reduced to her ancient
territory from Viterbo to Terracina, and from Narni to the mouth
of the Tyber. ^42 When the kings were banished, the republic
reposed on the firm basis which had been founded by their wisdom
and virtue. Their perpetual jurisdiction was divided between two
annual magistrates: the senate continued to exercise the powers
of administration and counsel; and the legislative authority was
distributed in the assemblies of the people, by a
well-proportioned scale of property and service. Ignorant of the
arts of luxury, the primitive Romans had improved the science of
government and war: the will of the community was absolute: the
rights of individuals were sacred: one hundred and thirty
thousand citizens were armed for defence or conquest; and a band
of robbers and outlaws was moulded into a nation deserving of
freedom and ambitious of glory. ^43 When the sovereignty of the
Greek emperors was extinguished, the ruins of Rome presented the
sad image of depopulation and decay: her slavery was a habit, her
liberty an accident; the effect of superstition, and the object
of her own amazement and terror. The last vestige of the
substance, or even the forms, of the constitution, was
obliterated from the practice and memory of the Romans; and they
were devoid of knowledge, or virtue, again to build the fabric of
a commonwealth. Their scanty remnant, the offspring of slaves
and strangers, was despicable in the eyes of the victorious
Barbarians. As often as the Franks or Lombards expressed their
most bitter contempt of a foe, they called him a Roman; "and in
this name," says the bishop Liutprand, "we include whatever is
base, whatever is cowardly, whatever is perfidious, the extremes
of avarice and luxury, and every vice that can prostitute the
dignity of human nature." ^44 ^* By the necessity of their
situation, the inhabitants of Rome were cast into the rough model
of a republican government: they were compelled to elect some
judges in peace, and some leaders in war: the nobles assembled to
deliberate, and their resolves could not be executed without the
union and consent of the multitude. The style of the Roman
senate and people was revived, ^45 but the spirit was fled; and
their new independence was disgraced by the tumultuous conflict
of vicentiousness and oppression. The want of laws could only be
supplied by the influence of religion, and their foreign and
domestic counsels were moderated by the authority of the bishop.
His alms, his sermons, his correspondence with the kings and
prelates of the West, his recent services, their gratitude, and
oath, accustomed the Romans to consider him as the first
magistrate or prince of the city. The Christian humility of the
popes was not offended by the name of Dominus, or Lord; and their
face and inscription are still apparent on the most ancient
coins. ^46 Their temporal dominion is now confirmed by the
reverence of a thousand years; and their noblest title is the
free choice of a people, whom they had redeemed from slavery.

[Footnote 42: I have traced the Roman duchy according to the
maps, and the maps according to the excellent dissertation of
father Beretti, (de Chorographia Italiae Medii Aevi, sect. xx. p.
216-232.) Yet I must nicely observe, that Viterbo is of Lombard
foundation, (p. 211,) and that Terracina was usurped by the

[Footnote 43: On the extent, population, &c., of the Roman
kingdom, the reader may peruse, with pleasure, the Discours
Preliminaire to the Republique Romaine of M. de Beaufort, (tom.
i.,) who will not be accused of too much credulity for the early
ages of Rome.]

[Footnote 44: Quos (Romanos) nos, Longobardi scilicet, Saxones,
Franci, Locharingi, Bajoarii, Suevi, Burgundiones, tanto
dedignamur ut inimicos nostros commoti, nil aliud contumeliarum
nisi Romane, dicamus: hoc solo, id est Romanorum nomine, quicquid
ignobilitatis, quicquid timiditatis, quicquid avaritiae, quicquid
luxuriae, quicquid mendacii, immo quicquid vitiorum est
comprehendentes, (Liutprand, in Legat Script. Ital. tom. ii. para
i. p. 481.) For the sins of Cato or Tully Minos might have
imposed as a fit penance the daily perusal of this barbarous

[Footnote *: Yet this contumelious sentence, quoted by Robertson
(Charles V note 2) as well as Gibbon, was applied by the angry
bishop to the Byzantine Romans, whom, indeed, he admits to be the
genuine descendants of Romulus. - M.]

[Footnote 45: Pipino regi Francorum, omnis senatus, atque
universa populi generalitas a Deo servatae Romanae urbis. Codex
Carolin. epist. 36, in Script. Ital. tom. iii. pars ii. p. 160.
The names of senatus and senator were never totally extinct,
(Dissert. Chorograph. p. 216, 217;) but in the middle ages they
signified little more than nobiles, optimates, &c., (Ducange,
Gloss. Latin.)]

[Footnote 46: See Muratori, Antiquit. Italiae Medii Aevi, tom.
ii. Dissertat xxvii. p. 548. On one of these coins we read
Hadrianus Papa (A.D. 772;) on the reverse, Vict. Ddnn. with the
word Conob, which the Pere Joubert (Science des Medailles, tom.
ii. p. 42) explains by Constantinopoli Officina B (secunda.)]

In the quarrels of ancient Greece, the holy people of Elis
enjoyed a perpetual peace, under the protection of Jupiter, and
in the exercise of the Olympic games. ^47 Happy would it have
been for the Romans, if a similar privilege had guarded the
patrimony of St. Peter from the calamities of war; if the
Christians, who visited the holy threshold, would have sheathed
their swords in the presence of the apostle and his successor.
But this mystic circle could have been traced only by the wand of
a legislator and a sage: this pacific system was incompatible
with the zeal and ambition of the popes the Romans were not
addicted, like the inhabitants of Elis, to the innocent and
placid labors of agriculture; and the Barbarians of Italy, though
softened by the climate, were far below the Grecian states in the
institutions of public and private life. A memorable example of
repentance and piety was exhibited by Liutprand, king of the
Lombards. In arms, at the gate of the Vatican, the conqueror
listened to the voice of Gregory the Second, ^48 withdrew his
troops, resigned his conquests, respectfully visited the church
of St. Peter, and after performing his devotions, offered his
sword and dagger, his cuirass and mantle, his silver cross, and
his crown of gold, on the tomb of the apostle. But this
religious fervor was the illusion, perhaps the artifice, of the
moment; the sense of interest is strong and lasting; the love of
arms and rapine was congenial to the Lombards; and both the
prince and people were irresistibly tempted by the disorders of
Italy, the nakedness of Rome, and the unwarlike profession of her
new chief. On the first edicts of the emperor, they declared
themselves the champions of the holy images: Liutprand invaded
the province of Romagna, which had already assumed that
distinctive appellation; the Catholics of the Exarchate yielded
without reluctance to his civil and military power; and a foreign
enemy was introduced for the first time into the impregnable
fortress of Ravenna. That city and fortress were speedily
recovered by the active diligence and maritime forces of the
Venetians; and those faithful subjects obeyed the exhortation of
Gregory himself, in separating the personal guilt of Leo from the
general cause of the Roman empire. ^49 The Greeks were less
mindful of the service, than the Lombards of the injury: the two
nations, hostile in their faith, were reconciled in a dangerous
and unnatural alliance: the king and the exarch marched to the
conquest of Spoleto and Rome: the storm evaporated without
effect, but the policy of Liutprand alarmed Italy with a
vexatious alternative of hostility and truce. His successor
Astolphus declared himself the equal enemy of the emperor and the
pope: Ravenna was subdued by force or treachery, ^50 and this
final conquest extinguished the series of the exarchs, who had
reigned with a subordinate power since the time of Justinian and
the ruin of the Gothic kingdom. Rome was summoned to acknowledge
the victorious Lombard as her lawful sovereign; the annual
tribute of a piece of gold was fixed as the ransom of each
citizen, and the sword of destruction was unsheathed to exact the
penalty of her disobedience. The Romans hesitated; they
entreated; they complained; and the threatening Barbarians were
checked by arms and negotiations, till the popes had engaged the
friendship of an ally and avenger beyond the Alps. ^51

[Footnote 47: See West's Dissertation on the Olympic Games,
(Pindar. vol. ii. p. 32-36, edition in 12mo.,) and the judicious
reflections of Polybius (tom. i. l. iv. p. 466, edit Gronov.)]

[Footnote 48: The speech of Gregory to the Lombard is finely
composed by Sigonius, (de Regno Italiae, l. iii. Opera, tom. ii.
p. 173,) who imitates the license and the spirit of Sallust or

[Footnote 49: The Venetian historians, John Sagorninus, (Chron.
Venet. p. 13,) and the doge Andrew Dandolo, (Scriptores Rer.
Ital. tom. xii. p. 135,) have preserved this epistle of Gregory.
The loss and recovery of Ravenna are mentioned by Paulus
Diaconus, (de Gest. Langobard, l. vi. c. 42, 54, in Script. Ital.
tom. i. pars i. p. 506, 508;) but our chronologists, Pagi,
Muratori, &c., cannot ascertain the date or circumstances]

[Footnote 50: The option will depend on the various readings of
the Mss. of Anastasius - deceperat, or decerpserat, (Script.
Ital. tom. iii. pars i. p. 167.)]

[Footnote 51: The Codex Carolinus is a collection of the epistles
of the popes to Charles Martel, (whom they style Subregulus,)
Pepin, and Charlemagne, as far as the year 791, when it was
formed by the last of these princes. His original and authentic
Ms. (Bibliothecae Cubicularis) is now in the Imperial library of
Vienna, and has been published by Lambecius and Muratori,
(Script. Rerum Ital. tom. iii. pars ii. p. 75, &c.)]

In his distress, the first ^* Gregory had implored the aid
of the hero of the age, of Charles Martel, who governed the
French monarchy with the humble title of mayor or duke; and who,
by his signal victory over the Saracens, had saved his country,
and perhaps Europe, from the Mahometan yoke. The ambassadors of
the pope were received by Charles with decent reverence; but the
greatness of his occupations, and the shortness of his life,
prevented his interference in the affairs of Italy, except by a
friendly and ineffectual mediation. His son Pepin, the heir of
his power and virtues, assumed the office of champion of the
Roman church; and the zeal of the French prince appears to have
been prompted by the love of glory and religion. But the danger
was on the banks of the Tyber, the succor on those of the Seine,
and our sympathy is cold to the relation of distant misery.
Amidst the tears of the city, Stephen the Third embraced the
generous resolution of visiting in person the courts of Lombardy
and France, to deprecate the injustice of his enemy, or to excite
the pity and indignation of his friend. After soothing the
public despair by litanies and orations, he undertook this
laborious journey with the ambassadors of the French monarch and
the Greek emperor. The king of the Lombards was inexorable; but
his threats could not silence the complaints, nor retard the
speed of the Roman pontiff, who traversed the Pennine Alps,
reposed in the abbey of St. Maurice, and hastened to grasp the
right hand of his protector; a hand which was never lifted in
vain, either in war or friendship. Stephen was entertained as
the visible successor of the apostle; at the next assembly, the
field of March or of May, his injuries were exposed to a devout
and warlike nation, and he repassed the Alps, not as a suppliant,
but as a conqueror, at the head of a French army, which was led
by the king in person. The Lombards, after a weak resistance,
obtained an ignominious peace, and swore to restore the
possessions, and to respect the sanctity, of the Roman church.
But no sooner was Astolphus delivered from the presence of the
French arms, than he forgot his promise and resented his
disgrace. Rome was again encompassed by his arms; and Stephen,
apprehensive of fatiguing the zeal of his Transalpine allies
enforced his complaint and request by an eloquent letter in the
name and person of St. Peter himself. ^52 The apostle assures his
adopted sons, the king, the clergy, and the nobles of France,
that, dead in the flesh, he is still alive in the spirit; that
they now hear, and must obey, the voice of the founder and
guardian of the Roman church; that the Virgin, the angels, the
saints, and the martyrs, and all the host of heaven, unanimously
urge the request, and will confess the obligation; that riches,
victory, and paradise, will crown their pious enterprise, and
that eternal damnation will be the penalty of their neglect, if
they suffer his tomb, his temple, and his people, to fall into
the hands of the perfidious Lombards. The second expedition of
Pepin was not less rapid and fortunate than the first: St. Peter
was satisfied, Rome was again saved, and Astolphus was taught the
lessons of justice and sincerity by the scourge of a foreign
master. After this double chastisement, the Lombards languished
about twenty years in a state of languor and decay. But their
minds were not yet humbled to their condition; and instead of
affecting the pacific virtues of the feeble, they peevishly
harassed the Romans with a repetition of claims, evasions, and
inroads, which they undertook without reflection, and terminated
without glory. On either side, their expiring monarchy was
pressed by the zeal and prudence of Pope Adrian the First, the
genius, the fortune, and greatness of Charlemagne, the son of
Pepin; these heroes of the church and state were united in public
and domestic friendship, and while they trampled on the
prostrate, they varnished their proceedings with the fairest
colors of equity and moderation. ^53 The passes of the Alps, and
the walls of Pavia, were the only defence of the Lombards; the
former were surprised, the latter were invested, by the son of
Pepin; and after a blockade of two years, ^* Desiderius, the last
of their native princes, surrendered his sceptre and his capital.

Under the dominion of a foreign king, but in the possession of
their national laws, the Lombards became the brethren, rather
than the subjects, of the Franks; who derived their blood, and
manners, and language, from the same Germanic origin. ^54

[Footnote *: Gregory I. had been dead above a century; read
Gregory III. - M]

[Footnote 52: See this most extraordinary letter in the Codex
Carolinus, epist iii. p. 92. The enemies of the popes have
charged them with fraud and blasphemy; yet they surely meant to
persuade rather than deceive. This introduction of the dead, or
of immortals, was familiar to the ancient orators, though it is
executed on this occasion in the rude fashion of the age.]

[Footnote 53: Except in the divorce of the daughter of
Desiderius, whom Charlemagne repudiated sine aliquo crimine.
Pope Stephen IV. had most furiously opposed the alliance of a
noble Frank - cum perfida, horrida nec dicenda, foetentissima
natione Longobardorum - to whom he imputes the first stain of
leprosy, (Cod. Carolin. epist. 45, p. 178, 179.) Another reason
against the marriage was the existence of a first wife,
(Muratori, Annali d'Italia, tom. vi. p. 232, 233, 236, 237.) But
Charlemagne indulged himself in the freedom of polygamy or

[Footnote *: Of fifteen months. James, Life of Charlemagne, p.
187. - M.]

[Footnote 54: See the Annali d'Italia of Muratori, tom. vi., and
the three first Dissertations of his Antiquitates Italiae Medii
Aevi, tom. i.]

Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.

Part III.

The mutual obligations of the popes and the Carlovingian
family form the important link of ancient and modern, of civil
and ecclesiastical, history. In the conquest of Italy, the
champions of the Roman church obtained a favorable occasion, a
specious title, the wishes of the people, the prayers and
intrigues of the clergy. But the most essential gifts of the
popes to the Carlovingian race were the dignities of king of
France, ^55 and of patrician of Rome. I. Under the sacerdotal
monarchy of St. Peter, the nations began to resume the practice
of seeking, on the banks of the Tyber, their kings, their laws,
and the oracles of their fate. The Franks were perplexed between
the name and substance of their government. All the powers of
royalty were exercised by Pepin, mayor of the palace; and
nothing, except the regal title, was wanting to his ambition.
His enemies were crushed by his valor; his friends were
multiplied by his liberality; his father had been the savior of
Christendom; and the claims of personal merit were repeated and
ennobled in a descent of four generations. The name and image of
royalty was still preserved in the last descendant of Clovis, the
feeble Childeric; but his obsolete right could only be used as an
instrument of sedition: the nation was desirous of restoring the
simplicity of the constitution; and Pepin, a subject and a
prince, was ambitious to ascertain his own rank and the fortune
of his family. The mayor and the nobles were bound, by an oath
of fidelity, to the royal phantom: the blood of Clovis was pure
and sacred in their eyes; and their common ambassadors addressed
the Roman pontiff, to dispel their scruples, or to absolve their
promise. The interest of Pope Zachary, the successor of the two
Gregories, prompted him to decide, and to decide in their favor:
he pronounced that the nation might lawfully unite in the same
person the title and authority of king; and that the unfortunate
Childeric, a victim of the public safety, should be degraded,
shaved, and confined in a monastery for the remainder of his
days. An answer so agreeable to their wishes was accepted by the
Franks as the opinion of a casuist, the sentence of a judge, or
the oracle of a prophet: the Merovingian race disappeared from
the earth; and Pepin was exalted on a buckler by the suffrage of
a free people, accustomed to obey his laws and to march under his
standard. His coronation was twice performed, with the sanction
of the popes, by their most faithful servant St. Boniface, the
apostle of Germany, and by the grateful hands of Stephen the
Third, who, in the monastery of St. Denys placed the diadem on
the head of his benefactor. The royal unction of the kings of
Israel was dexterously applied: ^56 the successor of St. Peter
assumed the character of a divine ambassador: a German chieftain
was transformed into the Lord's anointed; and this Jewish rite
has been diffused and maintained by the superstition and vanity
of modern Europe. The Franks were absolved from their ancient
oath; but a dire anathema was thundered against them and their
posterity, if they should dare to renew the same freedom of
choice, or to elect a king, except in the holy and meritorious
race of the Carlovingian princes. Without apprehending the
future danger, these princes gloried in their present security:
the secretary of Charlemagne affirms, that the French sceptre was
transferred by the authority of the popes; ^57 and in their
boldest enterprises, they insist, with confidence, on this signal
and successful act of temporal jurisdiction.

[Footnote 55: Besides the common historians, three French
critics, Launoy, (Opera, tom. v. pars ii. l. vii. epist. 9, p.
477-487,) Pagi, (Critica, A.D. 751, No. 1-6, A.D. 752, No. 1-10,)
and Natalis Alexander, (Hist. Novi Testamenti, dissertat, ii. p.
96-107,) have treated this subject of the deposition of Childeric
with learning and attention, but with a strong bias to save the
independence of the crown. Yet they are hard pressed by the
texts which they produce of Eginhard, Theophanes, and the old
annals, Laureshamenses, Fuldenses, Loisielani]

[Footnote 56: Not absolutely for the first time. On a less
conspicuous theatre it had been used, in the vith and viith
centuries, by the provincial bishops of Britain and Spain. The
royal unction of Constantinople was borrowed from the Latins in
the last age of the empire. Constantine Manasses mentions that of
Charlemagne as a foreign, Jewish, incomprehensible ceremony. See
Selden's Titles of Honor, in his Works, vol. iii. part i. p.

[Footnote 57: See Eginhard, in Vita Caroli Magni, c. i. p. 9,
&c., c. iii. p. 24. Childeric was deposed - jussu, the
Carlovingians were established - auctoritate, Pontificis Romani.
Launoy, &c., pretend that these strong words are susceptible of a
very soft interpretation. Be it so; yet Eginhard understood the
world, the court, and the Latin language.]

II. In the change of manners and language the patricians of
Rome ^58 were far removed from the senate of Romulus, on the
palace of Constantine, from the free nobles of the republic, or
the fictitious parents of the emperor. After the recovery of
Italy and Africa by the arms of Justinian, the importance and
danger of those remote provinces required the presence of a
supreme magistrate; he was indifferently styled the exarch or the
patrician; and these governors of Ravenna, who fill their place
in the chronology of princes, extended their jurisdiction over
the Roman city. Since the revolt of Italy and the loss of the
Exarchate, the distress of the Romans had exacted some sacrifice
of their independence. Yet, even in this act, they exercised the
right of disposing of themselves; and the decrees of the senate
and people successively invested Charles Martel and his posterity
with the honors of patrician of Rome. The leaders of a powerful
nation would have disdained a servile title and subordinate
office; but the reign of the Greek emperors was suspended; and,
in the vacancy of the empire, they derived a more glorious
commission from the pope and the republic. The Roman ambassadors
presented these patricians with the keys of the shrine of St.
Peter, as a pledge and symbol of sovereignty; with a holy banner
which it was their right and duty to unfurl in the defence of the
church and city. ^59 In the time of Charles Martel and of Pepin,
the interposition of the Lombard kingdom covered the freedom,
while it threatened the safety, of Rome; and the patriciate
represented only the title, the service, the alliance, of these
distant protectors. The power and policy of Charlemagne
annihilated an enemy, and imposed a master. In his first visit
to the capital, he was received with all the honors which had
formerly been paid to the exarch, the representative of the
emperor; and these honors obtained some new decorations from the
joy and gratitude of Pope Adrian the First. ^60 No sooner was he
informed of the sudden approach of the monarch, than he
despatched the magistrates and nobles of Rome to meet him, with
the banner, about thirty miles from the city. At the distance of
one mile, the Flaminian way was lined with the schools, or
national communities, of Greeks, Lombards, Saxons, &c.: the Roman
youth were under arms; and the children of a more tender age,
with palms and olive branches in their hands, chanted the praises
of their great deliverer. At the aspect of the holy crosses, and
ensigns of the saints, he dismounted from his horse, led the
procession of his nobles to the Vatican, and, as he ascended the
stairs, devoutly kissed each step of the threshold of the
apostles. In the portico, Adrian expected him at the head of his
clergy: they embraced, as friends and equals; but in their march
to the altar, the king or patrician assumed the right hand of the
pope. Nor was the Frank content with these vain and empty
demonstrations of respect. In the twenty-six years that elapsed
between the conquest of Lombardy and his Imperial coronation,
Rome, which had been delivered by the sword, was subject, as his
own, to the sceptre of Charlemagne. The people swore allegiance
to his person and family: in his name money was coined, and
justice was administered; and the election of the popes was
examined and confirmed by his authority. Except an original and
self-inherent claim of sovereignty, there was not any prerogative
remaining, which the title of emperor could add to the patrician
of Rome. ^61

[Footnote 58: For the title and powers of patrician of Rome, see
Ducange, (Gloss. Latin. tom. v. p. 149-151,) Pagi, (Critica, A.D.
740, No. 6-11,) Muratori, (Annali d'Italia, tom. vi. p. 308-329,)
and St. Marc, (Abrege Chronologique d'Italie, tom. i. p.
379-382.) Of these the Franciscan Pagi is the most disposed to
make the patrician a lieutenant of the church, rather than of the

[Footnote 59: The papal advocates can soften the symbolic meaning
of the banner and the keys; but the style of ad regnum dimisimus,
or direximus, (Codex Carolin. epist. i. tom. iii. pars ii. p.
76,) seems to allow of no palliation or escape. In the Ms. of
the Vienna library, they read, instead of regnum, rogum, prayer
or request (see Ducange;) and the royalty of Charles Martel is
subverted by this important correction, (Catalani, in his
Critical Prefaces, Annali d'Italia, tom. xvii. p. 95-99.)]

[Footnote 60: In the authentic narrative of this reception, the
Liber Pontificalis observes - obviam illi ejus sanctitas dirigens
venerabiles cruces, id est signa; sicut mos est ad exarchum, aut
patricium suscipiendum, sum cum ingenti honore suscipi fecit,
(tom. iii. pars i. p. 185.)]

[Footnote 61: Paulus Diaconus, who wrote before the empire of
Charlemagne describes Rome as his subject city - vestrae
civitates (ad Pompeium Festum) suis addidit sceptris, (de
Metensis Ecclesiae Episcopis.) Some Carlovingian medals, struck
at Rome, have engaged Le Blanc to write an elaborate, though
partial, dissertation on their authority at Rome, both as
patricians and emperors, (Amsterdam, 1692, in 4to.)]

The gratitude of the Carlovingians was adequate to these
obligations, and their names are consecrated, as the saviors and
benefactors of the Roman church. Her ancient patrimony of farms
and houses was transformed by their bounty into the temporal
dominion of cities and provinces; and the donation of the
Exarchate was the first-fruits of the conquests of Pepin. ^62
Astolphus with a sigh relinquished his prey; the keys and the
hostages of the principal cities were delivered to the French
ambassador; and, in his master's name, he presented them before
the tomb of St. Peter. The ample measure of the Exarchate ^63
might comprise all the provinces of Italy which had obeyed the
emperor and his vicegerent; but its strict and proper limits were
included in the territories of Ravenna, Bologna, and Ferrara: its
inseparable dependency was the Pentapolis, which stretched along
the Adriatic from Rimini to Ancona, and advanced into the
midland- country as far as the ridges of the Apennine. In this
transaction, the ambition and avarice of the popes have been
severely condemned. Perhaps the humility of a Christian priest
should have rejected an earthly kingdom, which it was not easy
for him to govern without renouncing the virtues of his
profession. Perhaps a faithful subject, or even a generous
enemy, would have been less impatient to divide the spoils of the
Barbarian; and if the emperor had intrusted Stephen to solicit in
his name the restitution of the Exarchate, I will not absolve the
pope from the reproach of treachery and falsehood. But in the
rigid interpretation of the laws, every one may accept, without
injury, whatever his benefactor can bestow without injustice.
The Greek emperor had abdicated, or forfeited, his right to the
Exarchate; and the sword of Astolphus was broken by the stronger
sword of the Carlovingian. It was not in the cause of the
Iconoclast that Pepin has exposed his person and army in a double
expedition beyond the Alps: he possessed, and might lawfully
alienate, his conquests: and to the importunities of the Greeks
he piously replied that no human consideration should tempt him
to resume the gift which he had conferred on the Roman Pontiff
for the remission of his sins, and the salvation of his soul.
The splendid donation was granted in supreme and absolute
dominion, and the world beheld for the first time a Christian
bishop invested with the prerogatives of a temporal prince; the
choice of magistrates, the exercise of justice, the imposition of
taxes, and the wealth of the palace of Ravenna. In the
dissolution of the Lombard kingdom, the inhabitants of the duchy
of Spoleto ^64 sought a refuge from the storm, shaved their heads
after the Roman fashion, declared themselves the servants and
subjects of St. Peter, and completed, by this voluntary
surrender, the present circle of the ecclesiastical state. That
mysterious circle was enlarged to an indefinite extent, by the
verbal or written donation of Charlemagne, ^65 who, in the first
transports of his victory, despoiled himself and the Greek
emperor of the cities and islands which had formerly been annexed
to the Exarchate. But, in the cooler moments of absence and
reflection, he viewed, with an eye of jealousy and envy, the
recent greatness of his ecclesiastical ally. The execution of
his own and his father's promises was respectfully eluded: the
king of the Franks and Lombards asserted the inalienable rights
of the empire; and, in his life and death, Ravenna, ^66 as well
as Rome, was numbered in the list of his metropolitan cities.
The sovereignty of the Exarchate melted away in the hands of the
popes; they found in the archbishops of Ravenna a dangerous and
domestic rival: ^67 the nobles and people disdained the yoke of a
priest; and in the disorders of the times, they could only retain
the memory of an ancient claim, which, in a more prosperous age,
they have revived and realized.

[Footnote 62: Mosheim (Institution, Hist. Eccles. p. 263) weighs
this donation with fair and deliberate prudence. The original
act has never been produced; but the Liber Pontificalis
represents, (p. 171,) and the Codex Carolinus supposes, this
ample gift. Both are contemporary records and the latter is the
more authentic, since it has been preserved, not in the Papal,
but the Imperial, library.]

[Footnote 63: Between the exorbitant claims, and narrow
concessions, of interest and prejudice, from which even Muratori
(Antiquitat. tom. i. p. 63-68) is not exempt, I have been guided,
in the limits of the Exarchate and Pentapolis, by the Dissertatio
Chorographica Italiae Medii Aevi, tom. x. p. 160-180.]

[Footnote 64: Spoletini deprecati sunt, ut eos in servitio B.
Petri receperet et more Romanorum tonsurari faceret, (Anastasius,
p. 185.) Yet it may be a question whether they gave their own
persons or their country.]

[Footnote 65: The policy and donations of Charlemagne are
carefully examined by St. Marc, (Abrege, tom. i. p. 390-408,) who
has well studied the Codex Carolinus. I believe, with him, that
they were only verbal. The most ancient act of donation that
pretends to be extant, is that of the emperor Lewis the Pious,
(Sigonius, de Regno Italiae, l. iv. Opera, tom. ii. p. 267-270.)
Its authenticity, or at least its integrity, are much questioned,
(Pagi, A.D. 817, No. 7, &c. Muratori, Annali, tom. vi. p. 432,
&c. Dissertat. Chorographica, p. 33, 34;) but I see no
reasonable objection to these princes so freely disposing of what
was not their own.]

[Footnote 66: Charlemagne solicited and obtained from the
proprietor, Hadrian I., the mosaics of the palace of Ravenna, for
the decoration of Aix-la-Chapelle, (Cod. Carolin. epist. 67, p.

[Footnote 67: The popes often complain of the usurpations of Leo
of Ravenna, (Codex Carolin, epist. 51, 52, 53, p. 200-205.) Sir
corpus St. Andreae fratris germani St. Petri hic humasset,
nequaquam nos Romani pontifices sic subjugassent, (Agnellus,
Liber Pontificalis, in Scriptores Rerum Ital. tom. ii. pars. i.
p. 107.)]

Fraud is the resource of weakness and cunning; and the
strong, though ignorant, Barbarian was often entangled in the net
of sacerdotal policy. The Vatican and Lateran were an arsenal and
manufacture, which, according to the occasion, have produced or
concealed a various collection of false or genuine, of corrupt or
suspicious, acts, as they tended to promote the interest of the
Roman church. Before the end of the eighth century, some
apostolic scribe, perhaps the notorious Isidore, composed the
decretals, and the donation of Constantine, the two magic pillars
of the spiritual and temporal monarchy of the popes. This
memorable donation was introduced to the world by an epistle of
Adrian the First, who exhorts Charlemagne to imitate the
liberality, and revive the name, of the great Constantine. ^68
According to the legend, the first of the Christian emperors was
healed of the leprosy, and purified in the waters of baptism, by
St. Silvester, the Roman bishop; and never was physician more
gloriously recompensed. His royal proselyte withdrew from the
seat and patrimony of St. Peter; declared his resolution of
founding a new capital in the East; and resigned to the popes the
free and perpetual sovereignty of Rome, Italy, and the provinces
of the West. ^69 This fiction was productive of the most
beneficial effects. The Greek princes were convicted of the
guilt of usurpation; and the revolt of Gregory was the claim of
his lawful inheritance. The popes were delivered from their debt
of gratitude; and the nominal gifts of the Carlovingians were no
more than the just and irrevocable restitution of a scanty
portion of the ecclesiastical state. The sovereignty of Rome no
longer depended on the choice of a fickle people; and the
successors of St. Peter and Constantine were invested with the
purple and prerogatives of the Caesars. So deep was the
ignorance and credulity of the times, that the most absurd of
fables was received, with equal reverence, in Greece and in
France, and is still enrolled among the decrees of the canon law.
^70 The emperors, and the Romans, were incapable of discerning a
forgery, that subverted their rights and freedom; and the only
opposition proceeded from a Sabine monastery, which, in the
beginning of the twelfth century, disputed the truth and validity
of the donation of Constantine. ^71 In the revival of letters and
liberty, this fictitious deed was transpierced by the pen of
Laurentius Valla, the pen of an eloquent critic and a Roman
patriot. ^72 His contemporaries of the fifteenth century were
astonished at his sacrilegious boldness; yet such is the silent
and irresistible progress of reason, that, before the end of the
next age, the fable was rejected by the contempt of historians
^73 and poets, ^74 and the tacit or modest censure of the
advocates of the Roman church. ^75 The popes themselves have
indulged a smile at the credulity of the vulgar; ^76 but a false
and obsolete title still sanctifies their reign; and, by the same
fortune which has attended the decretals and the Sibylline
oracles, the edifice has subsisted after the foundations have
been undermined.

[Footnote 68: Piissimo Constantino magno, per ejus largitatem S.
R. Ecclesia elevata et exaltata est, et potestatem in his
Hesperiae partibus largiri olignatus est .... Quia ecce novus
Constantinus his temporibus, &c., (Codex Carolin. epist. 49, in
tom. iii. part ii. p. 195.) Pagi (Critica, A.D. 324, No. 16)
ascribes them to an impostor of the viiith century, who borrowed
the name of St. Isidore: his humble title of Peccator was
ignorantly, but aptly, turned into Mercator: his merchandise was
indeed profitable, and a few sheets of paper were sold for much
wealth and power.]

[Footnote 69: Fabricius (Bibliot. Graec. tom. vi. p. 4-7) has
enumerated the several editions of this Act, in Greek and Latin.
The copy which Laurentius Valla recites and refutes, appears to
be taken either from the spurious Acts of St. Silvester or from
Gratian's Decree, to which, according to him and others, it has
been surreptitiously tacked.]

[Footnote 70: In the year 1059, it was believed (was it
believed?) by Pope Leo IX. Cardinal Peter Damianus, &c. Muratori
places (Annali d'Italia, tom. ix. p. 23, 24) the fictitious
donations of Lewis the Pious, the Othos, &c., de Donatione
Constantini. See a Dissertation of Natalis Alexander, seculum
iv. diss. 25, p. 335-350.]

[Footnote 71: See a large account of the controversy (A.D. 1105)
which arose from a private lawsuit, in the Chronicon Farsense,
(Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. ii. pars ii. p. 637, &c.,) a
copious extract from the archives of that Benedictine abbey.
They were formerly accessible to curious foreigners, (Le Blanc
and Mabillon,) and would have enriched the first volume of the
Historia Monastica Italiae of Quirini. But they are now
imprisoned (Muratori, Scriptores R. I. tom. ii. pars ii. p. 269)
by the timid policy of the court of Rome; and the future cardinal
yielded to the voice of authority and the whispers of ambition,
(Quirini, Comment. pars ii. p. 123-136.)]

[Footnote 72: I have read in the collection of Schardius (de
Potestate Imperiali Ecclesiastica, p. 734-780) this animated
discourse, which was composed by the author, A.D. 1440, six years
after the flight of Pope Eugenius IV. It is a most vehement
party pamphlet: Valla justifies and animates the revolt of the
Romans, and would even approve the use of a dagger against their
sacerdotal tyrant. Such a critic might expect the persecution of
the clergy; yet he made his peace, and is buried in the Lateran,
(Bayle, Dictionnaire Critique, Valla; Vossius, de Historicis
Latinis, p. 580.)]

[Footnote 73: See Guicciardini, a servant of the popes, in that
long and valuable digression, which has resumed its place in the
last edition, correctly published from the author's Ms. and
printed in four volumes in quarto, under the name of Friburgo,
1775, (Istoria d'Italia, tom. i. p. 385-395.)]

[Footnote 74: The Paladin Astolpho found it in the moon, among
the things that were lost upon earth, (Orlando Furioso, xxxiv.

Di vari fiore ad un grand monte passa,
Ch'ebbe gia buono odore, or puzza forte:
Questo era il dono (se pero dir lece)
Che Constantino al buon Silvestro fece.

Yet this incomparable poem has been approved by a bull of Leo X.]

[Footnote 75: See Baronius, A.D. 324, No. 117-123, A.D. 1191, No.
51, &c. The cardinal wishes to suppose that Rome was offered by
Constantine, and refused by Silvester. The act of donation he
considers strangely enough, as a forgery of the Greeks.]

[Footnote 76: Baronius n'en dit guerres contre; encore en a-t'il
trop dit, et l'on vouloit sans moi, (Cardinal du Perron,) qui
l'empechai, censurer cette partie de son histoire. J'en devisai
un jour avec le Pape, et il ne me repondit autre chose "che
volete? i Canonici la tengono," il le disoit en riant,
(Perroniana, p. 77.)]

While the popes established in Italy their freedom and
dominion, the images, the first cause of their revolt, were
restored in the Eastern empire. ^77 Under the reign of
Constantine the Fifth, the union of civil and ecclesiastical
power had overthrown the tree, without extirpating the root, of
superstition. The idols (for such they were now held) were
secretly cherished by the order and the sex most prone to
devotion; and the fond alliance of the monks and females obtained
a final victory over the reason and authority of man. Leo the
Fourth maintained with less rigor the religion of his father and
grandfather; but his wife, the fair and ambitious Irene, had
imbibed the zeal of the Athenians, the heirs of the Idolatry,
rather than the philosophy, of their ancestors. During the life
of her husband, these sentiments were inflamed by danger and
dissimulation, and she could only labor to protect and promote
some favorite monks whom she drew from their caverns, and seated
on the metropolitan thrones of the East. But as soon as she
reigned in her own name and that of her son, Irene more seriously
undertook the ruin of the Iconoclasts; and the first step of her
future persecution was a general edict for liberty of conscience.

In the restoration of the monks, a thousand images were exposed
to the public veneration; a thousand legends were inverted of
their sufferings and miracles. By the opportunities of death or
removal, the episcopal seats were judiciously filled the most
eager competitors for earthly or celestial favor anticipated and
flattered the judgment of their sovereign; and the promotion of
her secretary Tarasius gave Irene the patriarch of
Constantinople, and the command of the Oriental church. But the
decrees of a general council could only be repealed by a similar
assembly: ^78 the Iconoclasts whom she convened were bold in
possession, and averse to debate; and the feeble voice of the
bishops was reechoed by the more formidable clamor of the
soldiers and people of Constantinople. The delay and intrigues of
a year, the separation of the disaffected troops, and the choice
of Nice for a second orthodox synod, removed these obstacles; and
the episcopal conscience was again, after the Greek fashion, in
the hands of the prince. No more than eighteen days were allowed
for the consummation of this important work: the Iconoclasts
appeared, not as judges, but as criminals or penitents: the scene
was decorated by the legates of Pope Adrian and the Eastern
patriarchs, ^79 the decrees were framed by the president
Taracius, and ratified by the acclamations and subscriptions of
three hundred and fifty bishops. They unanimously pronounced,
that the worship of images is agreeable to Scripture and reason,
to the fathers and councils of the church: but they hesitate
whether that worship be relative or direct; whether the Godhead,
and the figure of Christ, be entitled to the same mode of
adoration. Of this second Nicene council the acts are still
extant; a curious monument of superstition and ignorance, of
falsehood and folly. I shall only notice the judgment of the
bishops on the comparative merit of image-worship and morality.
A monk had concluded a truce with the daemon of fornication, on
condition of interrupting his daily prayers to a picture that
hung in his cell. His scruples prompted him to consult the
abbot. "Rather than abstain from adoring Christ and his Mother
in their holy images, it would be better for you," replied the
casuist, "to enter every brothel, and visit every prostitute, in
the city." ^80 For the honor of orthodoxy, at least the orthodoxy
of the Roman church, it is somewhat unfortunate, that the two
princes who convened the two councils of Nice are both stained
with the blood of their sons. The second of these assemblies was
approved and rigorously executed by the despotism of Irene, and
she refused her adversaries the toleration which at first she had
granted to her friends. During the five succeeding reigns, a
period of thirty-eight years, the contest was maintained, with
unabated rage and various success, between the worshippers and
the breakers of the images; but I am not inclined to pursue with
minute diligence the repetition of the same events. Nicephorus
allowed a general liberty of speech and practice; and the only
virtue of his reign is accused by the monks as the cause of his
temporal and eternal perdition. Superstition and weakness formed
the character of Michael the First, but the saints and images
were incapable of supporting their votary on the throne. In the
purple, Leo the Fifth asserted the name and religion of an
Armenian; and the idols, with their seditious adherents, were
condemned to a second exile. Their applause would have
sanctified the murder of an impious tyrant, but his assassin and
successor, the second Michael, was tainted from his birth with
the Phrygian heresies: he attempted to mediate between the
contending parties; and the intractable spirit of the Catholics
insensibly cast him into the opposite scale. His moderation was
guarded by timidity; but his son Theophilus, alike ignorant of
fear and pity, was the last and most cruel of the Iconoclasts.
The enthusiasm of the times ran strongly against them; and the
emperors who stemmed the torrent were exasperated and punished by
the public hatred. After the death of Theophilus, the final
victory of the images was achieved by a second female, his widow
Theodora, whom he left the guardian of the empire. Her measures
were bold and decisive. The fiction of a tardy repentance
absolved the fame and the soul of her deceased husband; the
sentence of the Iconoclast patriarch was commuted from the loss
of his eyes to a whipping of two hundred lashes: the bishops
trembled, the monks shouted, and the festival of orthodoxy
preserves the annual memory of the triumph of the images. A
single question yet remained, whether they are endowed with any
proper and inherent sanctity; it was agitated by the Greeks of
the eleventh century; ^81 and as this opinion has the strongest
recommendation of absurdity, I am surprised that it was not more
explicitly decided in the affirmative. In the West, Pope Adrian
the First accepted and announced the decrees of the Nicene
assembly, which is now revered by the Catholics as the seventh in
rank of the general councils. Rome and Italy were docile to the
voice of their father; but the greatest part of the Latin
Christians were far behind in the race of superstition. The
churches of France, Germany, England, and Spain, steered a middle
course between the adoration and the destruction of images, which
they admitted into their temples, not as objects of worship, but
as lively and useful memorials of faith and history. An angry
book of controversy was composed and published in the name of
Charlemagne: ^82 under his authority a synod of three hundred
bishops was assembled at Frankfort: ^83 they blamed the fury of
the Iconoclasts, but they pronounced a more severe censure
against the superstition of the Greeks, and the decrees of their
pretended council, which was long despised by the Barbarians of
the West. ^84 Among them the worship of images advanced with a
silent and insensible progress; but a large atonement is made for
their hesitation and delay, by the gross idolatry of the ages
which precede the reformation, and of the countries, both in
Europe and America, which are still immersed in the gloom of

[Footnote 77: The remaining history of images, from Irene to
Theodora, is collected, for the Catholics, by Baronius and Pagi,
(A.D. 780-840.) Natalis Alexander, (Hist. N. T. seculum viii.
Panoplia adversus Haereticos p. 118- 178,) and Dupin, (Bibliot.
Eccles. tom. vi. p. 136-154;) for the Protestants, by Spanheim,
(Hist. Imag. p. 305-639.) Basnage, (Hist. de l'Eglise, tom. i. p.
556-572, tom. ii. p. 1362-1385,) and Mosheim, (Institut. Hist.
Eccles. secul. viii. et ix.) The Protestants, except Mosheim, are
soured with controversy; but the Catholics, except Dupin, are
inflamed by the fury and superstition of the monks; and even Le
Beau, (Hist. du Bas Empire,) a gentleman and a scholar, is
infected by the odious contagion.]

[Footnote 78: See the Acts, in Greek and Latin, of the second
Council of Nice, with a number of relative pieces, in the viiith
volume of the Councils, p. 645-1600. A faithful version, with
some critical notes, would provoke, in different readers, a sigh
or a smile.]

[Footnote 79: The pope's legates were casual messengers, two
priests without any special commission, and who were disavowed on
their return. Some vagabond monks were persuaded by the Catholics
to represent the Oriental patriarchs. This curious anecdote is
revealed by Theodore Studites, (epist. i. 38, in Sirmond. Opp.
tom. v. p. 1319,) one of the warmest Iconoclasts of the age.]

[Footnote 80: These visits could not be innocent since the daemon
of fornication, &c. Actio iv. p. 901, Actio v. p. 1081]

[Footnote 81: See an account of this controversy in the Alexius
of Anna Compena, (l. v. p. 129,) and Mosheim, (Institut. Hist.
Eccles. p. 371, 372.)]

[Footnote 82: The Libri Carolini, (Spanheim, p. 443 - 529,)
composed in the palace or winter quarters of Charlemagne, at
Worms, A.D. 790, and sent by Engebert to Pope Hadrian I., who
answered them by a grandis et verbosa epistola, (Concil. tom.
vii. p. 1553.) The Carolines propose 120 objections against the
Nicene synod and such words as these are the flowers of their
rhetoric - Dementiam .... priscae Gentilitatis obsoletum errorem
.... argumenta insanissima et absurdissima .... derisione dignas
naenias, &c., &c.]

[Footnote 83: The assemblies of Charlemagne were political, as
well as ecclesiastical; and the three hundred members, (Nat.
Alexander, sec. viii. p. 53,) who sat and voted at Frankfort,
must include not only the bishops, but the abbots, and even the
principal laymen.]

[Footnote 84: Qui supra sanctissima patres nostri (episcopi et
sacerdotes) omnimodis servitium et adorationem imaginum renuentes
contempserunt, atque consentientes condemnaverunt, (Concil. tom.
ix. p. 101, Canon. ii. Franckfurd.) A polemic must be
hard-hearted indeed, who does not pity the efforts of Baronius,
Pagi, Alexander, Maimbourg, &c., to elude this unlucky sentence.]

Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.

Part IV.

It was after the Nycene synod, and under the reign of the
pious Irene, that the popes consummated the separation of Rome
and Italy, by the translation of the empire to the less orthodox
Charlemagne. They were compelled to choose between the rival
nations: religion was not the sole motive of their choice; and
while they dissembled the failings of their friends, they beheld,
with reluctance and suspicion, the Catholic virtues of their
foes. The difference of language and manners had perpetuated the
enmity of the two capitals; and they were alienated from each
other by the hostile opposition of seventy years. In that schism
the Romans had tasted of freedom, and the popes of sovereignty:
their submission would have exposed them to the revenge of a
jealous tyrant; and the revolution of Italy had betrayed the
impotence, as well as the tyranny, of the Byzantine court. The
Greek emperors had restored the images, but they had not restored
the Calabrian estates ^85 and the Illyrian diocese, ^86 which the
Iconociasts had torn away from the successors of St. Peter; and
Pope Adrian threatens them with a sentence of excommunication
unless they speedily abjure this practical heresy. ^87 The Greeks
were now orthodox; but their religion might be tainted by the
breath of the reigning monarch: the Franks were now contumacious;
but a discerning eye might discern their approaching conversion,
from the use, to the adoration, of images. The name of
Charlemagne was stained by the polemic acrimony of his scribes;
but the conqueror himself conformed, with the temper of a
statesman, to the various practice of France and Italy. In his
four pilgrimages or visits to the Vatican, he embraced the popes
in the communion of friendship and piety; knelt before the tomb,
and consequently before the image, of the apostle; and joined,
without scruple, in all the prayers and processions of the Roman
liturgy. Would prudence or gratitude allow the pontiffs to
renounce their benefactor? Had they a right to alienate his gift
of the Exarchate? Had they power to abolish his government of
Rome? The title of patrician was below the merit and greatness
of Charlemagne; and it was only by reviving the Western empire
that they could pay their obligations or secure their
establishment. By this decisive measure they would finally
eradicate the claims of the Greeks; from the debasement of a
provincial town, the majesty of Rome would be restored: the Latin
Christians would be united, under a supreme head, in their
ancient metropolis; and the conquerors of the West would receive
their crown from the successors of St. Peter. The Roman church
would acquire a zealous and respectable advocate; and, under the
shadow of the Carlovingian power, the bishop might exercise, with
honor and safety, the government of the city. ^88

[Footnote 85: Theophanes (p. 343) specifies those of Sicily and
Calabria, which yielded an annual rent of three talents and a
half of gold, (perhaps 7000l. sterling.) Liutprand more pompously
enumerates the patrimonies of the Roman church in Greece, Judaea,
Persia, Mesopotamia Babylonia, Egypt, and Libya, which were
detained by the injustice of the Greek emperor, (Legat. ad
Nicephorum, in Script. Rerum Italica rum, tom. ii. pars i. p.

[Footnote 86: The great diocese of the Eastern Illyricum, with
Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily, (Thomassin, Discipline de l'Eglise,
tom. i. p. 145: ) by the confession of the Greeks, the patriarch
of Constantinople had detached from Rome the metropolitans of
Thessalonica, Athens Corinth, Nicopolis, and Patrae, (Luc.
Holsten. Geograph. Sacra, p. 22) and his spiritual conquests
extended to Naples and Amalphi (Istoria Civile di Napoli, tom. i.
p. 517-524, Pagi, A. D 780, No. 11.)]

[Footnote 87: In hoc ostenditur, quia ex uno capitulo ab errore
reversis, in aliis duobus, in eodem (was it the same?) permaneant
errore .... de diocessi S. R. E. seu de patrimoniis iterum
increpantes commonemus, ut si ea restituere noluerit hereticum
eum pro hujusmodi errore perseverantia decernemus, (Epist.
Hadrian. Papae ad Carolum Magnum, in Concil. tom. viii. p.
1598;) to which he adds a reason, most directly opposite to his
conduct, that he preferred the salvation of souls and rule of
faith to the goods of this transitory world.]

[Footnote 88: Fontanini considers the emperors as no more than
the advocates of the church, (advocatus et defensor S. R. E. See
Ducange, Gloss Lat. tom. i. p. 297.) His antagonist Muratori
reduces the popes to be no more than the exarchs of the emperor.
In the more equitable view of Mosheim, (Institut. Hist. Eccles.
p. 264, 265,) they held Rome under the empire as the most
honorable species of fief or benefice - premuntur nocte

Before the ruin of Paganism in Rome, the competition for a
wealthy bishopric had often been productive of tumult and
bloodshed. The people was less numerous, but the times were more
savage, the prize more important, and the chair of St. Peter was
fiercely disputed by the leading ecclesiastics who aspired to the
rank of sovereign. The reign of Adrian the First ^89 surpasses
the measure of past or succeeding ages; ^90 the walls of Rome,
the sacred patrimony, the ruin of the Lombards, and the
friendship of Charlemagne, were the trophies of his fame: he
secretly edified the throne of his successors, and displayed in a
narrow space the virtues of a great prince. His memory was
revered; but in the next election, a priest of the Lateran, Leo
the Third, was preferred to the nephew and the favorite of
Adrian, whom he had promoted to the first dignities of the
church. Their acquiescence or repentance disguised, above four
years, the blackest intention of revenge, till the day of a
procession, when a furious band of conspirators dispersed the
unarmed multitude, and assaulted with blows and wounds the sacred
person of the pope. But their enterprise on his life or liberty
was disappointed, perhaps by their own confusion and remorse.
Leo was left for dead on the ground: on his revival from the
swoon, the effect of his loss of blood, he recovered his speech
and sight; and this natural event was improved to the miraculous
restoration of his eyes and tongue, of which he had been
deprived, twice deprived, by the knife of the assassins. ^91 From
his prison he escaped to the Vatican: the duke of Spoleto
hastened to his rescue, Charlemagne sympathized in his injury,
and in his camp of Paderborn in Westphalia accepted, or
solicited, a visit from the Roman pontiff. Leo repassed the Alps
with a commission of counts and bishops, the guards of his safety
and the judges of his innocence; and it was not without
reluctance, that the conqueror of the Saxons delayed till the
ensuing year the personal discharge of this pious office. In his
fourth and last pilgrimage, he was received at Rome with the due
honors of king and patrician: Leo was permitted to purge himself
by oath of the crimes imputed to his charge: his enemies were
silenced, and the sacrilegious attempt against his life was
punished by the mild and insufficient penalty of exile. On the
festival of Christmas, the last year of the eighth century,
Charlemagne appeared in the church of St. Peter; and, to gratify
the vanity of Rome, he had exchanged the simple dress of his
country for the habit of a patrician. ^92 After the celebration
of the holy mysteries, Leo suddenly placed a precious crown on
his head, ^93 and the dome resounded with the acclamations of the
people, "Long life and victory to Charles, the most pious
Augustus, crowned by God the great and pacific emperor of the
Romans!" The head and body of Charlemagne were consecrated by the
royal unction: after the example of the Caesars, he was saluted
or adored by the pontiff: his coronation oath represents a
promise to maintain the faith and privileges of the church; and
the first-fruits were paid in his rich offerings to the shrine of
his apostle. In his familiar conversation, the emperor protested
the ignorance of the intentions of Leo, which he would have
disappointed by his absence on that memorable day. But the
preparations of the ceremony must have disclosed the secret; and
the journey of Charlemagne reveals his knowledge and expectation:
he had acknowledged that the Imperial title was the object of his
ambition, and a Roman synod had pronounced, that it was the only
adequate reward of his merit and services. ^94

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